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The Somerton Trials Weekend 2017

On arrival, we found the usual, excellent camping field was provided as usual and manouvered the GRA Hospitality Suite into position, next to the Portaloo! Once set up and having chatted with old friends, it was off to the Hunter's Lodge, the only pub I know with a proper caving-type pot hole in it's carpark! A real old-fashioned pub, beer from the barrel was £3-30 a pint and decent bar snacks were £5 across the board and despite being in the middle of nowhere was absolutely heaving with not a Hooray Henry in sight!

Despite dry weather elsewhere, there had been some rain at Priddy which made some of the sections 'interesting', especially on the Sunday. The first trial commenced on Saturday afternoon with riders dispersed to the 3 groups of sections to minimise queuing. The first group, in the wood above the parking area, was a mixture of turns, climbs and drops amongst the woodland and were very well laid out and seemed easier than last year.

A run along farm tracks then followed to the group 'over the back' and of these, 2 were fine but the third, involving loose rocks, proved quite tricky. These sections were followed by a trip around the fields and a blast back along the tracks to the final group which proved far trickier. More use was made of tighter turns here which is OK for the trick bikes I suppose. Sections 7 to 12 were in the woods / along the bank and apart from the turns, featured a few rocky outcrops here and there.

3 laps were completed and as usual, I proved my riding prowess by coming a dismal last in class (I think)! Committee member Dick faggetter lost 15, forum and website guru son Ian, riding a shed of a TES lost 17 and I managed a whopping 35 - don't ask my how but I just couldn't put a wheel right! Never mind, it was off to Cheddar for a curry for 4 GRA members, maybe a better ride on the morrow?!

Sunday's event stated at 10.30 and this time was 4 laps with a good number of Saturday's sections ridden in the reverse direction with a few mods here and there. It proved to be easier in some parts but harder in others. The group with sections 7 to 12 in it proved the worst, in fact a couple of riders on the hard route expressed surpise at the severity of two of the sections on our route (the clubman;s or 'middle' route).

Section 8 involved a log and I just could not get over this thing. I had 4 5's and then eventually got over it having a 5th unofficial attempt. In my view, that should not have been part of our route as the penalty for failure was falling off and pain as I kept proving. Section 12 was also pretty tricky although I did manage to clean it on one occasion. I think I cleaned the others at least once but made a few schoolboy errors on the easier ones just to maintain my position! After a lap, Dick had had enough and retired which was a shame as most of the trickier stuff did get esier (apart from section 12!)

A problem that seems to be affecting classic trials these days is that the ace riders of the past are giving up on the hard route as they are finding it too difficult without a modern trick bike. They then find the 'easy' route too easy FOR THEM and demand it is tightened up which the Clerk of the Course then does. I'm not saying this happened here but it is something that needs to be considered with trials in general as a possible emerging trait

All in all, this was an excellent weekend and despite my dismal riding, I finished with a smile on my face which is the main thing! Two trials (and there was a really easy 'gentleman's route' available to those who wished to ride it) beer and curry, who could ask for more than that?! I did hear that there was around 100 riders on the Sunday so this proves just how popular this event is.

On the GRA side, we had the 'Roving Regalia' with us and sold a couple of tee shirts as well as dispensing a bit of machine identity and general advice. Apart from one of our sail flags nearly blowing away over the hedge and into the adjacent road, we actually had no disasters this time or machine destruction and a good time was had by all.